Just how big is "big data" anyway?

We hear a lot of talk concerning big data, but just how big is it and how much is data actually growing by?

For that matter, do we all agree on exactly what big data actually is right now?

Search Cloud Computing defines big data (also spelled Big Data) as a general term used to describe the voluminous amount of unstructured and semi-structured data a company creates — although big data doesn’t refer to any specific quantity, the term is often used when speaking about petabytes and exabytes of data.

Beware the big data scaremongers

You don’t have to read far too find reports claiming that we currently have in excess of 10 times more data than we did three years ago, but it’s important to hold fire on this kind of claim.

Beware the big data scaremongers; we don’t have 10 times more data than we did three years ago.


Robin Bloor uses his Inside Analysis blog to remind is that IDC has estimated a (compound annual growth rate) CAGR of 40% for data storage, which would “suggest” that we in fact have less than three times as much data as three years ago.

Bloor also points to estimates from Dell, which approximate for similar growth taking into account the huge swathes of unstructured data being created in the form of videos, sound, images and text etc.

If we can finally “get over” the big data hype then we must now start turning our attention to what we do indeed do with the data that we do have (however big it is), which is why you will see ANALYTICS mentioned repeatedly as they key so-what factor when it comes to big data and the IT assets that it represents to us.

It is important at this stage to define the size and scope of big data so that we know whether we really do have ten times more data (or just a whole lot less) than we did three (or even five) years ago so that developers can architect applications to the correct grade in terms of robustness, resilience and overall roundness of vision.